A rare moment of opportunity and execution came together in the Presidential Election and the victory speech. The election itself was transformational – that’s not for this blog to expound as there are enough others talking, blogging and twittering over that major event.
Barack Obama gave a once in a decade speech in accepting the Presidency. He has an incredible ability to move people with oratory in both his behavior and content – and he took advantage of that when he had his most important audience of perhaps hundreds of millions of people across the world.
- Presidential: He looked and spoke like a President. Whether you voted for him or not, if you weren’t impressed you were not looking and listening. He did all the right things, under pressure.
- All About You: He talked about the people of his campaign, the people of his country, and the people who did not vote for him. He did not gloat, but he spoke as one who wanted to unite. This speech was not about him.
- On Point: He had a Point Of View, and stayed on message – just as his campaign did. It was all about change. Change from a country of slavery to a country where a black man could be elected President. Change from a broken country to a healing country. It was a disciplined speech, just as he ran a disciplined campaign.
- Story: He used his usual picturesque language, and had a great story of Ann Nixon Cooper, a 106 year old woman from Atlanta who waited to vote for 4 hours. She was born a generation from slavery, and when women couldn’t vote, couldn’t drive and couldn’t fly. Powerful contrasts to today, and the task at hand.
- Likability: This is one of the most important factors in communicating – and determines most elections by influencing the undecideds. Barack Obama has the unique quality of being both Presidential and likable. He is measured (actually professorial), easy going yet energetic. He smiles, has an open face and appears thoughtful (a listener). His personality and ability to connect with eyes, gesture and voice is impressive, and certainly helped him influence the vote in his favor. And those behaviors all came to the fore in this memorable speech.
There is more, and there are some things he could do better. But that’s for another time. Tonight is President-elect Obama’s night – and he took advantage of the opportunity to bring others along with him. That’s what a great speech does.